Typhoon Haiyan: UNHCR helps government decongest evacuation centres

Briefing Notes, 26 November 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 26 November 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In the Philippines, UNHCR is working with the authorities to decongest overcrowded evacuation centres housing survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

Thousands of people were evacuated to public buildings such as stadiums, schools and churches ahead of the November 8 typhoon. Many have since left, but an estimated 240,000 people still remain in some 1,100 evacuation centres, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

These centres are often overcrowded, with many families living in confined spaces with limited water and sanitation facilities. There is no privacy and tensions are rising. These public buildings are not meant for long-term stay and the situation is not sustainable.

UNHCR is supporting the authorities with decongestion efforts in close coordination with the shelter and camp coordination and camp management clusters. We are also working to ensure that the displaced people are consulted and that alternatives proposed are as safe dignified as possible.

The following are our latest interventions:

In Tacloban's San Jose village one of the worst-affected in the area we are handing over 1,000 tents, 3,000 blankets, 2,000 jerry cans and 1,000 kitchen sets to the local authorities to help the affected population currently in evacuation centres to rebuild their homes.

In Tanauan, south of Tacloban, UNHCR is providing another 1,000 tents to the mayor to help displaced people move out of evacuation centres.

In Guiuan, in Eastern Samar province, we are also distributing plastic sheets and other supplies to families in the evacuation centres and in their home areas.

UNHCR is working with the Philippine government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It has provided 240 tents to typhoon-affected staff of the Department and helped them return to their posts.

We continue to send relief supplies from Cebu and Tacloban to the UNHCR humanitarian hubs in Ormoc and Guiuan. So far, these supplies have been distributed to more than 50,000 people.

UNHCR has opened a hub in Roxas City in Capiz province and is mobilizing staff to open another hub in Borongan in Eastern Samar province. At least 17 international staff have reinforced UNHCR's 30-strong personnel in the Philippines for this emergency. More staff deployments are expected.

Nine international flights have transported relief supplies from UNHCR stockpiles in Dubai and Copenhagen. Military C-130 planes from Sweden, Australia and New Zealand have helped UNHCR ferry supplies from Cebu to the typhoon-devastated areas.

Under the inter-agency response to Typhoon Haiyan, UNHCR is supporting the government's efforts by providing relief supplies and coordinating protection monitoring and interventions.

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